Anti-LGBT Parents Have Compared GSAs to ISIS, Anti-LGBT Students Have Worn 'Straight Pride' T-Shirts
The school board in Franklin County, Tennessee, is set to discuss polices related to student clubs Monday following weeks of controversy over a newly formed Gay-Straight Alliance.
After years of requests from LGBTQ students, administrators finally approved the GSA at Franklin County High School (FCHS) last month pursuant to the Federal Equal Access Act, which effectively gives them a choice between allowing the club or banning all non-curricular organizations.
The decision to approve the GSA led to intense backlash in the remote town of Winchester, population 8,500, with opponents comparing the club to the terror group ISIS on social media, and anti-LGBT bullies vandalizing its posters and wearing "Straight Pride" signs, as first reported by The New Civil Rights Movement.
GSA opponents launched a Facebook page calling for people to speak against the club at Monday's school board meeting, but officials initially indicated they wouldn't be discussing the issue because the decision to approve the club had already been made. However, last week, three of the district's policies related to student clubs and organizations were added to the board's agenda.
"I am very concerned that the issue of 'Student Clubs and Organizations' has been added as an ACTION item to the Agenda for the BOE [Board of Education] meeting on Monday," the GSA's faculty sponsor wrote on the group's Facebook page.
Two supporters of the GSA told The New Civil Rights Movement they're unsure what action school board members intend to take regarding the policies. GSA supporters are planning a rally prior to the school board meeting, which has been moved from its normal location to Franklin County High School.
Meanwhile, bullying of the club's supporters has continued — both online and inside the high school. One GSA member reported last week that another student threw water on him in the cafeteria, but school officials refused to do anything about it. The GSA member said he's considering filing a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, which — under the Obama administration — has cracked down on districts that fail to protect LGBT students against bullying and harassment.
Meanwhile, on the Facebook page opposing the GSA, which is open for anyone, including LGBTQ students of all ages to read, opponents have continued their hateful cyber-attacks on LGBTQ students and all those involved in the student group:
On the bright side, the GSA has received support from all over the world, and organizers haven't lost their sense of humor:
If the school board shuts down the GSA, the district would almost certainly face an immediate lawsuit from civil rights groups such as the ACLU or Lambda Legal.
It's difficult to imagine school board members would be wiling to expose the district to this type of liability in the name of anti-LGBT bigotry, and it's doubtful a federal court would take kindly to such a move given that officials have already acknowledged they're required to allow the club under the Equal Access Act — unless, of course, they also want to get rid of organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and P7, both of which have chapters at Franklin County High School.
Another possibility is that school board members want to add language to the policies to appease GSA opponents, who've said they feel the club is promoting an "agenda." In fact, sources say the school has already implemented a new rule requiring all club posters to be placed in one location, in response to controversy over the GSA's posters. School officials have also been accused of failing to discipline those students who wore "Straight Pride" posters in response to the GSA.
In any case, Monday's meeting should be interesting. Stay tuned to The New Civil Rights Movement for updates.